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Contentious US-China talks put differences and animosity on display

DIPLOMATS from the US and China accused each other of violations of trade rules and human rights in the first face-to-face meeting in Alaska since President Joe Biden occupied the White House

21 March 2021 - 19:00
DIPLOMATS from the US and China accused each other of violations of trade rules and human rights in the first face-to-face meeting in Alaska since President Joe Biden occupied the White House.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Beijing of undermining global stability, while his counterpart, Yang Jiechi, said the US wasn't 'qualified to speak to China from a position of strength', reported Bloomberg.



Mr Blinken said the US would 'discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber-attacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies'.



'Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,' he said, reported BBC News.



Mr Yang countered: US not qualified to 'speak from a position of strength' when criticising China, then accused Washington of using its military might and financial supremacy to suppress other countries.



It abuses so-called notions of national security to obstruct normal trade exchanges, and incite some countries to attack China,' said Mr Yang.



He added that human rights in the US were at a low point, with black Americans being 'slaughtered'.



National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hit back, saying Washington did not seek a conflict with China, but added: 'We will always stand up for our principles for our people, and for our friends.'



A senior US administration official said the talks were 'substantive, serious and direct' and went beyond the allotted time.



Mr Yang and his junior, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, had for weeks warned Washington that they wouldn't tolerate any foreign power crossing 'red lines' like Taiwan and Hong Kong.



Mr Yang and Mr Wang blasted the US, citing the killing of black Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement as evidence of American hypocrisy.



China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian sought to play down the combative posturing, reported Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.



But as he left the meeting room, Foreign Minister Wang said: 'The second round of talks was smooth, and we have discussed a lot of regional issues.'



Shi Yinhong, director of Renmin University's Centre on American Studies in Beijing, said both sides appeared to be hardening their positions on fundamental issues. While there might be some scope for collaboration on issues such as Iran, North Korea or Myanmar, he said, it was 'quite, quite limited.'



Said former US commercial counsellor in Beijing William Zarit: 'Most of these things are really to show strength in domestic politics here in the US. Perhaps it will give the Biden administration a little bit of leeway to start actually talking about issues, to start trying to come to some common understanding with the Chinese.'


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